International trade or technology? Who is left behind and what to do about it

CDP Background Paper No. 45

By Ann Harrison

We examine globalization’s effects on those left behind in both industrial and emerging markets. While access to global markets has lifted billions out of poverty in emerging markets, the benefits have not been equally shared. Increased competition through globalization as well as skill-biased technical change has hurt less educated workers in rich and poor countries. While much of the rising inequality is often attributed to globalization alone, a brief review of the literature suggests that labor-saving technology has likely played an even more important role. The backlash has focused on the negative consequences of globalization in developed countries, and now threatens the global trading system and access to that system for emerging markets. We conclude by proposing some solutions to compensate losers from the twin forces of technical change and globalization.

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